How to Apply for Income Based Repayment


If you have government loans, you can enroll in Income Based Repayment. We have heard from many readers who have had success with this program. You do not need to be disabled or on disability. This is available to all people who are low income.

Where Do I Sign Up? 

Start here: sign up for student loans income-based repayment

How Much Will My New Payment Be? 

The amount of payment depends on your income. For many of our readers who are low income, the monthly bill is $0.

Will I Be in Default or Hurt My Credit?

No. If your bill is $0 and you pay $0, you are all paid up!

Warning: Tax Problems

If you enroll in income-based repayment, in 20-25 years your debt will be forgiven and go away! Not as great as it sounds!

This can cause tax problems. If you think you will still be alive in 20 years, learn more about how to escape tax problems.

If You Are In Default Now

If your loans are currently in default: It’s still possible to apply for this program, but you may need to consolidate your loans first. Learn more: If your loans are in default.

Reader’s Story

My loans were in default. I consolidated all the loans, which brought them out of default without having to make any payments. Then I applied for Income Based Repayment. I work part time, but my income is low, so monthly payment has been $0 for the past eight years. I’m no longer considered in default and don’t have any problems with credit! But I have to plan ahead for taxes when they get forgiven. – OP

Learn more

For information on disability discharges and other options:

How To Escape The Crushing Weight of Student Loans

Updated April 2020. Please comment below with stories, ideas, questions or suggestions. Please let us know if any links on this page stop working. If you found this page helpful, please share it with others by pressing one of these magic little buttons:

13 thoughts on “How to Apply for Income Based Repayment”

  1. I want to offer a note for anyone looking at this recently. I just had my doctor complete this form. The boxes for answers are TINY, so my doctor attached a letter giving a thorough explanation of my disability and wrote “see attached” in the boxes. My application was returned saying the letter wouldn’t be accepted, and she would have to write her comments in the provided boxes, which are less than an inch high. Typing makes it easier to fit more (small font) but it’s impossible to fit as much as seems necessary. I think this is used as an excuse to deny. I have more than one condition that combined makes me tpd, but there is no room to describe them all. We will resend the letter along with the form, but it will likely be ignored.


    1. Thanks for sharing this. Very helpful to know.

      I have not seen anyone get denied as long as doctor marks permanently and totally disabled… Maybe they just don’t require that much info 🙂 Hope it goes great.


      1. I’m unable to find the form that the MD completes to a full discharge of the loan due to disability. My daughter has been on Income Driven Repayment for several years and remains unable to return to school or work. Where can the form be located? TY!


  2. Wow, why are they charging tax on one but not the other? That hardly seems fair. I’ve been on the repayment plan for about 10 years, I think. What makes this especially disgusting is how SSI doesn’t allow recipients to save any significant amount of our checks, so it’s like a catch-22. I guess the IRS is just going to have to kiss my special place or just send me to prison, because I certainly wont be able to give them their blood money.


    1. If you have no assets, you can just file the insolvency exclusion above and that will solve the problem. 🙂

      IRS does not garnish SSI, but can garnish SSDI. If you became disabled before age 22, they might be able to garnish disabled adult child benefits too.


  3. I’m on the income-based repayment plan; it’s $0 per month because of my SSI. Well, I’m a little confused about the tax thing. First you say that, in 20-25 years, it will be forgiven but taxes may be owed. Then, in the section regarding a discharge, you say taxes will not be owed if it’s after 2018. 20 years into the future is well past 2018, so which is it? LOL


  4. I am on permanent disability. My husband still works. He is only signer on PLUS Loans for our son. We are in huge debt to them. What can we do?? It was never our intent to not pay back these loans. But struggle monthly just living. Any advise is appreciated.


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